Here's a story that deserves attention: as Brian Roewe reports at National Catholic Reporter a few days ago, the American Life League has accused Catholic Charities USA of "playing the devil's game of compromise" because Catholic Charities' president Father Larry Snyder sits on the board of America's Promise Alliance, which "is promoting homosexual activism and birth control."
This story comes on the heels of a similar (and obviously interrelated) one a few weeks ago: the Population Research Institute accused Catholic Relief Services of distributing contraceptives and abortifacients in Madagascar. Dennis Sadowski reports on that story for NCR.
What do the American Life League and the Population Research Institute have in common, other than that they are both well-funded right-wing Catholic "pro-life" groups centered in northern Virginia? The other thing they have in common: both are major players in helping the Republican party drum up support among conservative Catholics as new election cycles begin.
It's clear to many perceptive observers of the American political scene right now, and of the political gamesmanship of the top leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that these bishops and the GOP smell the possibility of a Republican takeover of the Senate in the next election cycle. Hence the astroturfing of claims that are, essentially, about non-issues (read: the violations these right-wing groups are accusing Catholic works-of-mercy groups of committing aren't happening) as the 2014 election cycle gets underway: both right-wing Catholic groups are trying to stir up conservative Catholic ire with bogus charges that Catholic dollars given to groups engaged in works of mercy are being spent for causes prohibited by Catholic moral teaching.
At his blog site, Bishop Robert Lynch of Saint Petersburg, Florida, speaks powerful truth about what's going on with this bogus, astroturfed political campaign: as he says with admirable bluntness, the Population Research Institute is "allegedly" pro-life, but it spends a preponderant amount of its time and energy stirring up storms designed to attack the very Catholic organizations that are trying to make the lives of struggling human beings in the developing part of the world better--work that is really pro-life.
And then he goes on to say:
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has felt the buffeting torrents of accusations in the past as has Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA). This time it was Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which was to be the significant “whipping boy/girl” for these groups. For twelve years of my priestly life I have been on the Board of Catholic Relief Services and six of those I served as President and Chairman of the Board. During my engagement we were mostly spared any of these storms, but from the time Cardinal Timothy Dolan succeeded me as Chairman, these storms have developed off the East Coast of the U.S. and moved eastward toward Africa where CRS does an amazing job of supporting and sustaining human life, even with programs of pre-natal maternal/child health care, which has helped lower the infant (in and out of the womb) death rate.
Did you hear the reference to Cardinal Dolan--and do you glimpse what Bishop Lynch is saying by making it?
And then he concludes,
I am convinced that many so called Pro-Life groups are not really pro-life but merely anti-abortion. We heard nothing from the heavy hitters in the prolife movement in the last week when Florida last night executed a man on death row for 34 years having been diagnosed as a severe schizophrenic. Which personality did the state execute? Many priests grow weary of continual calls to action for legislative support for abortion and contraception related issues but nothing for immigration reform, food aid, and capital punishment. And, this is a big one, priests don’t like unfair attacks on things they highly value and esteem, like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services.
And I say, we in the Catholic church sorely need more bishops like Bishop Lynch. And fewer like His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York.